2 August 2018

How to present your business effectively

Want to spread the word about your business quickly and well? There are techniques to ensure that people remember you, such as the elevator pitch. This article provides tips and tricks for a successful presentation.

What is an elevator pitch?

Imagine you are in a lift with the CEO of a large company who would be your dream customer. You have the time it takes to travel 15 floors to present yourself. But how to go about it?

Introduce yourself at record speed

An elevator pitch exercise is about being able to present yourself (or your business) efficiently in record time. An elevator pitch is a condensed presentation which should arouse the curiosity of the person you are talking to and encourage them to take action. This exercise can be used at conferences, networking evenings or when canvassing for new business. It can also be important when seeking funding from your bank and investors.

Tickle their curiosity

An elevator pitch should be short (45 to 60 seconds and no more than 250 words) and focused on the person you are talking to. What you say should be clear, concise and especially appealing. It should arouse the curiosity of the person you are talking to, who should want to find out more. The purpose of an elevator pitch is therefore not to persuade or to sell a product or service.

"The purpose of an elevator pitch is not to persuade or to sell a product or service."

What is a pitch?

A pitch lasts approximately a maximum of 10 minutes. Sometimes, depending on the situation, even a little less. In all cases, the basic rule is simple: less is more! Your presentation should be understood by a novice (your children or parents).

No pointless chatter or endless background; no lengthy references or technical descriptions. Instead highlight the advantages and added value for your target. Your pitch should be organised according to the audience for your products or services, how useful these will be to them and the competitive advantage to be emphasised. Finally it will conclude with a call to action.

Pitch structure

The structure of a pitch consists of three stages:

  • Create interest. Use an impressive fact appealing to the imagination, ask a question, tell a story, give an amazing example, an image which strikes a chord
  • Present the added value. Clearly explain the solution offered to the market.
  • Conclude. Specify what you expect from the person you are talking to.

Pitch stages

When speaking to a banker or investor, these stages may be broken down as follows:

  • Introduce yourself briefly in one sentence
  • Focus on the objective of the presentation
  • Catch the attention of the person you are talking to, summarise the problem you are solving
  • Specify the audience for your value proposition, showing that there is a real market
  • Describe the solution in simple terms and how you are intending to monetise it for customers
  • Specify your competitive advantages and what sets you apart from your rivals; why you are better than the others
  • Point out the support of your (internal or external) team
  • Conclude: what are you hoping for?

Pay attention to form

When it comes to making a good presentation, remember too that form is just as important as content. Dress comfortably and appropriately for your audience. Use visual aids when and if necessary (slides, diagrams, etc.). Create a calm listening environment which reinforces the quality of the exchange.

"When it comes to making a good presentation, form is just as important as content."

What else?

Some more tips to ensure that people remember you: make them laugh, mention somebody with whom the person or the audience you are talking to is familiar (and not an academic nobody's heard of) or tell a really engaging anecdote.

While some people kick off their pitch with a question, others opt to dramatise the context first before offering the solution. Each to their own. However, the exercise is not as easy may seem.

Avoid mistakes

  • Speaking too fast
  • Wanting to include everything
  • Being too complicated
  • Being too conventional or… too original
  • Overselling the project
  • Being focused on your business rather than on the person you are talking to or your customers.